I love my garden and there are particular favorites: peonies, astilbes, feathery yarrow…but nothing compares to the hydrangea for me. I have different varieties scattered in my flower beds, and one bed dedicated entirely to hydrangeas. After waiting patiently for the last 5 years, my climbing hydrangea (which has done an incredible job of growing along the fence) FINALLY has a teeny, tiny little blossom on it this year. I almost feel like a new parent! Can’t wait to see it in bloom!
Many people share my love of hydrangeas. I found this really nice article from Georgia Raimondi, in her book “The Passionate Gardener.”
The Hydrangea Long after the petals of my spring-flowering shrubs have faded, my hydrangeas begin to bloom and fill the garden with billowy blossoms of sky blue, rosy pink, and creamy white. This old-fashioned plant with branches laden with voluptuous blossoms graces many summer gardens where it produces armfuls of flowers. Hydrangeas lend an air of gentility to a garden, and their long-blooming flowers also provide spectacular color throughout all the hot days of summer. The name hydrangea is derived from the Greek words for water (hydro) and bowl or vessel (angeion). But my first hydrangea made me think of another word derived from Greek: chameleon. A friend in the fashion industry gave me my first hydrangea. She had selected a specific plant because its glorious color recalled a particu- larly shocking pink that we had discovered on a trip to Paris. But imagine my shock next season when my hot pink plant produced blooms of heavenly blue. After some research I discovered that this striking metamorphosis was not due to hocus-pocus but to a chemical interaction between the soil and the plant. Acidic soil encourages the hydrangea to absorb aluminum which accounts for its blueness. When the soil is more alkaline, aluminum absorb- tion is prevented, and pink blooms abound. Mopheads -- the type my friend had given me -- are the least stable of the hydrangeas and most readily change color according to the pH of the soil. Thus enlightened, my shock gave way to delight, and hydrangeas have since become a stalwart of my garden. Their luxurious blossoms are quite hardy -- I leave some on the bush through the winter to hold an echo of summer through the year. The cut flowers respond well to drying, and add texture and richness to arrangements and wreaths. At Christmas, they make attractive and unex- pected ornaments on the tree. There are more than 500 hydrangea cultivars including various climbers and shrubs with diverse foliage and flowers. With so many elegant choices, you are sure to find a botanical chameleon of your own to enhance your garden with its extravagant blooms, air of old-fashioned gentility, and chromatic magic. Planting Tips Lush shrubs of macrophylia hydrangea with abundant blooms are easy to grow. ***Happiest in morning sun but will also flower abundantly in light shade ***Will thrive in almost any well-drained soil. ***To manipulate color, remember that deep blue results from acidic soil ((pH between 4.0 and 5.5) and rich pink from alkaline (7.3 to 7.5). Increase alkalinity with cautious additions of lime. Increase acidity with peat moss, aluminum sulfate, or sulfur. (Pee gee hydrangea slowly turn from white to soft pink to rusty bronze, irrespective of the soil's pH).